If you love camping but you live in New York City, the good news is you don’t have to look too far beyond the boroughs for a pristine place to pitch a tent.
From beach sites in Long Island to the best kept secret park in Massachusetts to Vermont’s woodsy knolls on Lake Champlain, these 17 campgrounds near NYC charge between two dollars and $50 per night, offer fire pits, horseback riding, kayaks, cabins, and even an outdoor movie night—plus they all have one thing in common: they are easily accessible without a car.
1. Pitch a Tent Here: Hither Hills, 50 South Fairview Ave., Montauk, NY 631.668.2554, discoverlongisland.com
A Sweet S’more Spot: You can pitch your tent or snuggle into your RV in between the trees, right along the two-mile stretch of beach or the 40-acre freshwater lake. Enjoy the playground, picnic area with fire pits, volleyball and horseshoe courts, and numerous hiking trails. It is $24 per night for NY state residents and $48 per night for non-residents.
How to get there: Take the Hampton Jitney into the town of Montauk. A local bus runs regularly through Main Street out to Hither Hills, though you may have to shriek a bit for it to stop. Or rent some bikes in town and ride out to Hither Hills.
2. Pitch a Tent Here: Cedar Point County Park, 5 Cedar Point Road, East Hampton, NY, 631.244.7275, discoverlongisland.com
A Sweet S’more Spot: At this pet-friendly campsite, enjoy the picnic spots, nature walks, boat rentals, sports facilities, Saturday night movies, and beach access. Take a walk along the sandbar to the lighthouse, built in 1860. $24 for out-of-towners.
How to get there: Take the Long Island Railroad straight out to East Hampton from Penn Station. Bring your bike (and your $5 lifetime bike permit on the train) and take the 6-mile ride to the campground—bikers can stay for free in a designated biker’s campground for one night. Arrange a taxi ahead of time or hop on your bikes to get to the campsite, 631.324.2100.
3. Pitch a Tent Here: Saranac Lake Islands, 4468 State Route 3, Saranac Lake, NY, 518.891.2841, dec.ny.gov
A Sweet S’more Spot: The secluded location is convenient for any water sports enthusiasts and is a prime fishing spot for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch, bullhead, and pickerel. Hiking trails, horseback riding, and golf courses are also nearby. $22 camping fee.
How to get there: Take Adirondack Trailways (from $68.25 for an adult ticket one way) to Saranac Lake. Arrange a taxi beforehand or walk the two miles to Ampersand Bay Marina, where you can rent a canoe or kayak (518.891.3001). The campsite is only accessible by boat.
4. Pitch a Tent Here: Lake Placid/Whiteface Mtn. KOA, 77 Fox Farm Road, Wilmington, NY, 518.946.7878, koa.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Nestled in the Adirondacks, this campsite offers a multitude of outdoor activities, including hiking, canoeing and kayaking, mini golf, a game room, heated pool and family programs on the weekend. Campsites allow RVs, and tents and cabins are available for rental. Prices for tent camping are about $15 each, but prices vary depending on the campsite.
How to get there: Take Greyhound bus from Port Authority into the town of Lake Placid. The campsite is about 10 miles from the bus stop, so arrange a taxi (518.946.2222) or rent a bike in town (518.523.3764).
|Important Camping Survival Tips
1. Stay warm at night: Don’t just depend on wearing lots of layers to keep you cozy in the sack, come prepared with a down sleeping bag like the GoLite Adrenaline +20.
2. Don’t invite the bears to dinner: Cook at least 100 yards away from your tent, and keep a clean site.
3. Beat the sunset: Don’t get caught hiking to the campsite in the dark.
4. Don’t blow away: The winds get particularly strong come fall—especially if you’re camping on an island like Bannerman—so make sure your tent is securely hammered into the ground.
5. Know before you go: Check the weather forecast prior to your camping trip so you don’t get stuck in a storm.
6. Hydrate, Hydrate, and Rehydrate: Don’t even think about bringing 20 plastic water bottles—particularly near ponds, lakes, or rivers. Instead, invest in a water purifier, water purification tablets, or simply boil the water.
5. Pitch a Tent Here: Lake George Escape, PO Box 431, East Schroon River Road, Lake George, NY, 518.623.3207, lakegeorge.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Swimming, lazy river tubing, pool, playground and game room available on-site, with a five-minute shuttle into town for more activities and restaurants. RV, tent and cabin lodging are available in wooded areas and along the river.
6. Pitch a Tent Here: Blue Mountain Campground, 3783 Route 32, Saugerties, NY (Catskill region), 845.246.7564. bluemountaincampground.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: 60 sites, 20 with water and electric hookups, pool, basketball, volleyball and a playground for the kids. Take a hike to majestic Haines Falls. Visit Cantine Field for the Mum Festival in October. $30 for a two-person campsite.
How to get there: Take Adirondack Trailways bus from Port Authority at 9:55am or 4:45pm daily and arrive at Blue Mountain Campground in under three hours.
7. Pitch a Tent Here: Frost Valley, 2000 Frost Valley Road, Claryville, NY, 845.985.2291, frostvalley.org
A Sweet S’more Spot: This once lakeside boys’ camp has developed into the largest YMCA campground in the country. While you might find less solitude than other off-the-beaten-track campgrounds, here there are limitless activities for the family, from high ropes courses, to horseback daytrips, to organized activities for the kids. The East Valley Facilities are located 12 miles away from the main center and offer a more remote experience. Platform tent rentals start at $32, with larger cabins available to accommodate multiple families.
How to get there: The Short Line bus, leaving Port Authority, has multiple stops in Liberty, NY (just about 15 miles away). Call a cab in advance (845.794 4040, 845.794.7777).
8. Pitch a Tent Here: Lake Mohonk Mountain House on the Mohonk Preserve, 1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY. Mountain House 845.255.1000. Mohonk Preserve, 845.255.0919, mohonk.com).
A Sweet S’more Spot: The Mohonk Preserve protects about 20,000 acres of pristine land and is the largest private preserve in NY. Run, bike or hike the 70 miles of carriage roads and trails. About 50,000 people visit the Gunks climbing cliffs each year for a rush of adrenaline. There is no tent camping on the preserve and the only option is pricey, but worth it. Stay for a night at the Mohonk Mountain House, a seven-story National Historic Landmark (call for reservations (845) 255-1000).
How to get there: You can take Amtrak to the nearest train station, which is located in Poughkeepsie (about 14 miles away). Or Adirondak Trailway provides bus service from Port Authority to New Paltz, which is six miles away trailwaysny.com. Call the Mohonk House in advance to arrange a pickup.
9. Pitch a Tent Here: Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground, 569 Edgartown Vineyard Haven Rd, Vineyard Haven, MA, 508.693.3772, campmv.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Nestled within an oak forest, each campsite offers a fire pit and picnic table, with a playground and rec hall also on the grounds. Rent bikes to access beaches, biking trails, golf courses and fine dining around the island. Camping for two people starts at $50.
How to get there: A ferry departs from Manhattan at 4:45 pm every Friday and reaches the Oak Bluffs port at about 10pm. Or take the ferry from Woods Hole, MA into Vineyard Haven. The campsite is under two miles from either port, but is closer to Vineyard Haven. Rent bikes at the port or take the leisurely walk to the campsite.
10. Pitch a Tent Here: Washburn Island on Waquoit Bay-National Estuarine Research Reserve. 877.422.6762 for reservations. 508.457.0495, ext. 100 for more information on the reserve, waquoitbayreserve.org.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Enjoy some relaxing, primitive camping, hiking, fishing, and shellfishing on an island off of Cape Cod, which offers nine four-person campsites and one that can hold a maximum of 25. The only amenities offered are two composting toilets—campers must bring their own supplies and carry out garbage. $8 per night for out-of-staters, with a $9.25 processing fee per reservation.
How to get there: Take the Peter Pan bus from NYC to Falmouth, MA. Or if you choose to carpool, overnight parking is permitted at Falmouth White’s Landing located on the Childs River (Route 28). From here you can rent kayaks, with free delivery to location for three or more kayaks, or a $25 delivery fee (508.563.9377). Go south on Childs River to Seapit Point, go north up the Seapit River to Waquoit Bay, the campsites are located on the eastern side of Washburn Island. The trip is less than three miles.
11. Pitch a Tent Here: Erving State Forest & Laurel Lake, Laurel Lake Road, Erving, MA. For park information, call 978.544.7745. For reservations, call 877.422 6762, mass.gov
A Sweet S’more Spot: One of the best-kept secrets in Massachusetts. The 4,500 acres of wilderness offers opportunities for camping, boating, hiking, biking, fishing, and swimming off a sandy beach. The hiking trails lead to a great view of Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire and beaver dams being built.
How to get there: Take the Peter Pan bus to Greenfield, MA. Rent a bike in town and make the 14-mile trek to the campground, or call a cab in advance: 413.773.9063. Franklin Regional Transit Authority also runs buses regularly from Court Square in Greenfield to Erving Center, two miles to the campground.
12. Pitch a Tent Here: Historic Valley Campgrounds, 200 George Fairs Way, North Adams, MA (base of the Berkshire Mountains), 413.662.3198, northadams-ma.org.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Take a hike on the nearby stretch of the Appalachian Trail or visit the only natural white marble arch and dam in North America, mass.gov. Enjoy fishing, boating and swimming in nearby Windsor Lake and free summer concerts on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
How to get there: Take a Peter Pan bus from Port Authority to Williamstown, MA (6 miles from North Adams). From here, call a cab (413.663.3000). Berkshire Regional Transit Authority runs to North Adams (check the schedule at berkshirerta.com).
13. Pitch a Tent Here: North Beach Campground, 60 Institute Road, Burlington, VT, 802.862.0942, enjoyburlington.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: 137 sites offered within a wooded area or along the shore of Lake Champlain. Enjoy nearby activities on the lake, hiking paths, sports facilities and access to the town of Burlington, a bustling area that offers a variety of restaurants and shopping.
How to get there: Take the Greyhound bus or Amtrak train into Burlington. Arrange a taxi ahead of time (802.598.7254) or hop on your bikes to get to the campsite (under six miles). Or, take a few buses (802.864.CCTA for schedules)—take the #12 South Burlington Circulator from the airport (where the Greyhound terminal is located) to the University Mall stop, catch the 1 or 1E to Cherry Street and then take the #7 up North Avenue (tell the driver you are going to the campground).
14. Pitch a Tent Here: Kittatinny Canoes Campground-River Beach Campsites, 378 Routes 6 & 209, Milford, PA. 800.float.kc., kittatinny.com.
A Sweet S’more Spot: 250 acres of wooded and riverside camping. Fishing, lazy river tubing, canoeing and whitewater rafting available on the swift waters of the Delaware River. Campsite rental starts at $24, with a $13 charge for each additional person.
How to get there: Take the train from Penn Station (mta.info) or the Shortline bus (shortlinebus.com) into Port Jervis. Call Kittatinney Canoes ahead of time to arrange a shuttle pickup for $15 a head.
15. Pitch a Tent Here: Greenbelt Park, 6565 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, Maryland. Reservations: 877.444.6777. Park Ranger: 301.344.3944.
A Sweet S’more Spot: This 1100-acre park is located just 12 miles from Washington, DC and has the closest campgrounds to the nation’s capital. There are 174 campgrounds, 10 miles of hiking trails, three picnic areas, and easy access to the city. $16 per night.
How to get there: Check out oM’s guide to getting to DC. The campground is located along the Metro-take the green line to College Park.
16. Pitch a Tent Here: Delaware Seashore State Park, 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE., 302.539.7202. Reservations 1.877.98 PARKS, destateparks.com
A Sweet S’more Spot: Open April until the end of November with plumbing and electricity, and year-round with limited service. $30 for campsite with 4 people, $38 for full hookup site, $2 per extra person per day. Campsites are 500 yards away from the beach. Check the Calendar of Events for activities in the area, like Cheese Classes at the Good for You Market and weekly movies and farmers markets.
How to get there: Normal public transit is currently under construction in the area, so you will have to take an alternate route for now. Take an Amtrak train from Penn Station or a Greyhound bus from Port Authority into Dover (about an hour away) and then hop on a local DART bus (800.355.8080 for schedule) to get closer to Rehoboth (call the campground to see if they are available to pick you up, otherwise you will have to hop in a cab (302.227.8294).
17. Pitch a Tent Here: Ramapo Valley County Reservation Campground, 156 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ. 201.512.9348, nynjtc.org.
A Sweet S’more Spot: Explore over 3,000 acres of wilderness, with only nine other campsites perched on grassy knolls around 22-acre Scarlet Oak Pond. There is a 20-mile web of hiking trails open to the public, but they must disperse half an hour after sunset, leaving the campers with complete peace and solitude. Tent camping (April-November) and fishing is allowed by permit only (201.327.3500).
How to get there: Take the New Jersey Transit train from Penn Station, with a transfer in Secaucus, to Mahwah. The reservation is under 1.5 miles away. Campers must hike in the 200 yards to the campsite.
Photo: Courtesy of snre